Linda Rios-Neuby could make anyone feel special.

"She had this way about her," said City Council President Darrell L. Clarke. "We're going to miss her big time."

Clarke spoke to nearly 200 friends, relatives, and colleagues who gathered in the City Hall courtyard Thursday for a candlelight vigil to honor Rios-Neuby, the longtime Council staffer who was killed by her husband in a murder-suicide in Northeast Philadelphia last week.

Members of the crowd, many wearing shades of purple for domestic violence awareness, wept as they embraced and handed out looped purple ribbons.

Rios-Neuby, 37, was a constant in City Hall for two decades, hired as a teenage summer intern and rising to director of human resources for  Council.

People pray during the City Hall courtyard vigil for Linda Rios-Neuby, the City Council staffer shot dead by her husband in a murder-suicide last week.
STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer
People pray during the City Hall courtyard vigil for Linda Rios-Neuby, the City Council staffer shot dead by her husband in a murder-suicide last week.

About 7:30 a.m. last Friday, police arrived at her home on the corner of Meridian and Erdrick Streets in Holmesburg, where they found her dead from three gunshot wounds. Near the front door, officers found her husband, Haywood Neuby Jr., dead with a shot to the head.

At the time, investigators said that Rios-Neuby and her husband had separated in recent weeks, and that he had stopped by to see their twin daughters and a deadly argument ensued.

Homicide Capt. Jack Ryan said Rios-Neuby was the 21st woman slain in a domestic incident in the city this year, up from 14 this time last year.

At the vigil, her family was at a loss for words.

"It's hard for us as a family to put into words how we feel," said her brother Rick Sheaffer. "No words could replace our sister. Our hearts are broken."

Underscoring the messages from Sheaffer and others was a push for people to speak up if they know someone who is a victim of domestic violence.

Before the vigil, representatives from Women Against Abuse handed out purple wristbands, ribbons, and pamphlets on how to spot violence and help end it.

Rick Sheaffer, Linda Rios-Neuby’s brother, speaks during a vigil for her in the City Hall courtyard.
STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer
Rick Sheaffer, Linda Rios-Neuby’s brother, speaks during a vigil for her in the City Hall courtyard.

Rios-Neuby's case was "a painful reminder of the impact of domestic violence," said Mayor Kenney. She was "universally liked, beloved by all her colleagues," he said.

"Too many guns, too many angry people," Kenney said, getting visibly emotional.

Many city officials considered Rios-Neuby family, and reminisced about the years they had known her and her twin girls. For some, she was "the glue."

Rios-Neuby was "a child of the barrio," a "proud Latina" who was "always advocating … for her community," said Councilwoman María Quiñones-Sánchez. "She took care of everybody else first, and then herself."

Some in the crowd called Rios-Neuby "the sweetest person you could ever meet."

She "was like that angel that was there on your shoulder guiding you through everything you had to do," said Norma Morales, who had known Rios-Neuby for 21 years and said she was "like a daughter" to her.

"I'm still wishing I could wake up" from this," she said through tears.